Letter from the organisers

We wish to assure our partners, exhibitors, sponsors, delegates, visitors and speakers that African Utility Week will go ahead as planned from 15 to 17 May 2018.

As you might be aware, Cape Town and the Western Cape are currently experiencing a 1 in 1,000 year period of below average rainfall. Cape Town, along with most of South Africa, is a water scarce area, and after 3 years of sustained low rainfall the bulk water supply cannot keep up with demand.

Currently, Cape Town and surrounding areas are under Level 6b water restrictions, meaning residents and visitors are required to keep to a daily usage limit of 50 litres per person. Municipal water is still being supplied and all services (health, safety, waste, sanitation) are functioning as normal.

As a visitor to Cape Town, you will have access to all your water needs for drinking and personal hygiene. At no stage are these requirements under threat, with drinking water being provided either through Municipal supply or bottled water is readily available. There is also no need to feel that you as a visitor will be putting the system under additional strain. According to the official tourism figures, at the summer peak (November – January) tourists only add 1% to the population of the Western Cape. During winter, when African Utility Week takes place, this number is much less. As long as you follow the daily water limits your impact on supply is negligible, and your economic impact is of considerably more benefit to the City.

You might have heard of ‘Day Zero’ and wondered what this means, and what impact this might have on African Utility Week. Day Zero refers to the date when the City could turn off the Municipal water supply to businesses and households outside of the Central Business District.  As a consequence residents will collect a daily water ration from distribution points. It is important to remember that Day Zero is not inevitable. This is a theoretical date calculated daily based on rainfall projections, infrastructure projects coming on stream and water usage across the entire system – households, business, agriculture and industry. The people of Cape Town are making significant efficiencies and saving water at every opportunity and are consistently pushing this date back.

As a major event in the City, African Utility Week plays a crucial role in contributing towards the in-ward bound travel market and the 300,000 jobs the hospitality and MICE industry supports in Cape Town. For this reason, the City and WESGRO, the Western Cape’s tourism, trade and investment agency, are actively working with all hotels, event venues and organisers to ensure that the impact of these events on the water supply is minimised and that these crucial economic contributors continue. By holding the event, African Utility Week will continue to support the Cape Town economy as we cannot allow for there to be massive job losses on top of a water constrained situation.

At present, no events have been cancelled by the City, Provincial or National Government. Working together, we have ensured that each responsible party is doing what it can to ensure water savings and keeping events water-neutral. To this end, African Utility Week has engaged the venue, suppliers and all surrounding hotels to ensure that every opportunity has been taken to reduce water use and guarantee that you will have access to water. Some of the initiatives include:

  • The CTICC has invested in grey water systems to ensure all hygiene functions are serviced without using any Municipal/potable water.
  • Water supply has been stopped to hand basins and waterless hand sanitiser is provided.
  • Only bottled water will be served for drinking, sourced from certified producers outside of the Western Cape or water constrained areas.
  • Using rain water collection tanks, grey water savings and air-to-water harnessed from the HVAC systems, all maintenance and cleaning activities are serviced by this supply, meaning no impact to potable water supplies.
  • All official African Utility Week partner hotels, and most hotels throughout the City, have instituted water savings measures and communications campaigns to reduce, or completely remove, pressure on the Municipal supply.

These are just some of the measures currently in place to ensure we are not placing additional strain on the municipal water supply to the City or its people. We are currently reviewing value-adding initiatives that will be communicated in due course. Considering that the African Utility Week audience contains some of the brightest minds in the water sector, we encourage you to share if you have further ideas for how we can implement water saving measures whilst supporting the economy and people of Cape Town. Keep your eye on our website and social media for further announcements or to get the official letters from the hotels, CTICC or government agencies as required.

My team and I are available to answer any questions you might have with regards to your participation in African Utility Week, and look forward to welcoming you to the premier power and water event in Africa.

Yours sincerely,

Evan Schiff

Event Director
African Utility Week